Adventure 4 – The Necropolis Maze
Augustine looked over his companions with pride. They had just overcome a terrible undead monstrosity, yet the colossal guardian was not the last challenge they would face. The party took a moment’s rest to recover. Deneveve knelt next to Augustine and gently spoke a few healing prayers that mended his wounds and eased the throbbing in his head from when the tombstone hammer crashed down on him. Xylia was tending to Tig’s wounds, her former beloved trapped within a white tiger’s body. The Dark Elf Sorcerer, Alleric, stood watchful at the threshold of the dungeon while the party recovered. When all party members looked physically fit Augustine stood up, readying his sword and shield and gestured for his allies to follow. United in their conviction, the four adventurers descended down into the labyrinth of the dead.
The stairs winded deep into the earth, ending at the mouth of three tunnels lined with stonework. Throughout the walls numerous coffins rested in small alcoves. Deneveve consulted the dragon bone compass in Alleric’s hand, noting that they should head toward the left-most tunnel. As they cautiously moved forward, Xylia saw a path of undead legionnaires march across the right-most tunnel. It seemed as if the dragon bone Compass was leading them down the safest path.
The adventurers were soon to discover that ‘safest’ was a very relative term in an undead labyrinth. The first chamber they came across was filled with dark green water with several pedestals sticking above the surface. On one such pedestal, a Halfling Rogue hung off the edge, inching his way toward the next. On another pedestal, a Wood Elf Monk dodged nimbly through a hail of poisonous darts shooting out from each wall. A moment of shock passed through the party as they never expected to find fellow living adventurers within the labyrinth. That moment quickly passed as Augustine directed Alleric and Xylia to start looking for ways to disarm the walls. The Halfling rogue noticed the newcomers and yelled over to them “The wires around the doorways loosened the triggers in the corners of the room. Knock them lose!” The sorcerer and ranger were quick to focus their fire on the small triggers, hoping to blast them free. After suffering several poisonous darts themselves, they were able to disable the darts from firing. The Monk standing on the center pedestal ceased her dodging and gestured for the newcomers to follow her to the other side. The monk and rogue made leaping across the pedestals look far easier than it actually was. Augustine and Deneve, both clad in heavy armor, were not so sure footed on the slippery pedestals and ended up taking a quick dip in the poisonous waters below.
Once across, the hafling introduced himself as Mr. Ark Keli and his companion as Xin-Shan, a longtime companion of his. Their shared background of fighting against the Three had brought them together to this dangerous place. Deneveve was quick to introduce her companions, yet did not wish to reveal their purpose here to total strangers. Before she could give some private words of caution to Augustine he abruptly stated, “We’re on a holy mission to retrieve the crown of the Lich King!”
A devilish grin spread across the rogue’s face. “Fancy that, so are we!” The rogue went on to say that they had been in the labyrinth for several days now and would not object to teaming up together to make their way through. Xylia, Alleric, Augustine and Deneveve exchanged a look and decided not to inform the rogue and monk that for all their time in the maze they were still merely minutes from the entrance. It seemed all the trouble they went through to get the compass was a good investment.
Deneveve tried pointing out to Augustine that there was only one crown and their mission required bringing it back to the Cathedral, but Augustine clamped his hand on Deneveve’s shoulder to silence her. “Worry not, they look trustworthy!” Alleric and Xylia remained quiet, still not having yet revealed that they too were after the crown for their own purposes. Such matters could wait until after it was in their possession, if they survived this quest. United by a common cause, the party of six readied themselves and followed the compass onward.
The Labyrinth was a collection of terrible dangers that the Lich King had spent years creating. While the dragon bone compass spared them the worst that the labyrinth had to offer, they found their fair share of death traps. The first was a long hallway of mirrors and illusions. From that hallway, Augustine saw the Crusader laying down his sword. Deneveve saw the family she failed to protect now safe from harm. Ark saw his freedom from the Diabolist granted to him. Xylia saw Tig reformed into his natural state, holding her in his arms. Each mirror showed them what they longed for, but to give in to the mirrors would lead them astray. Alleric stayed true to the compass, guiding his companions farther down the true path and out of the hallways of temptation.
Eager to move past the mirrors, the party rounded a corner and nearly fell into a deep pit that lay before them. Through the light from the lanterns the party carried the party could see the bottom of the pit moving. It was crawling with snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? The compass pointed forward. There was no way around. As the party stood at the edge of the pit trying to puzzle out a solution the dark elf Alleric nudged Augustine then pointed down to their short halfing rogue companion. Augustine placed a rope in the halfing’s hands and before the rogue could utter an objection threw him over the pit with his mighty strength. The rogue hit the ground on the other side of the pit and tied off the rope so the others could follow before tending to his pride.
Once past the pit, Augustine was alarmed to find a sloped room filled with cloud’s of noxious glass. Alleric and Xylia branched out a bit and found a secret room full of alchemical experiments. Amid the vials and cauldrons, Xylia found a jar of deceased black jelly and two healing potions. Alleric took the jar and poured it onto the floor of the sloped room, watching it slide down the surface. Xin-Shan took a big gulp of air into her lungs and quickly surfed down the surface through the gas. Hesitantly, the others followed suit, sliding down through the cloud and to safety. Ark and Xylia failed to hold their breath the entire way and gulped down the acidic fumes, but were spared the brunt of the poison by sliding to safety.
At the bottom of the pit the party found themselves in a large cavern that echoed with the sounds of a dripping liquid. Alleric conjured up a variety of dancing lights and saw numerous large stalactites hanging from the ceiling dripping a red smoky liquid. The liquid splashed onto the floor below, burning small holes in the cavern floor. Xin-Shan recognized the red liquid as the cursed blood of the white dragons, long enslaved by the Lich King as Dracoliches. Whatever it touched would burn with an intense icy bite. Deneveve channeled the power of the god’s through Augustine’s blessed foundation stone from the cathedral. She used the power to sanctify Augustine’s shield and with it the Paladin led the party under the line of stalactites and to safety.
The cavern walls gave way to mortared stone again and from there down a hallway to a small guardroom. Within the room, two oddly misshapen humanoid forms sat hunched over a small table, playing cards. One looked up toward the party and called out “Oiy! You there! Play a game or solve the riddle, that’s the deal.” They gestured toward the two opposing doors behind them. Ark happily sat down and asked to be dealt in. “Right. Here’s the deal, you win and we’ll tell you which door leads you to safety. We win, we get to punch each of you in the face as much as we want.” The rogue watched in horror as the Flesh Golem single-handedly shuffled the cards above, over, and around his head before dealing out a hand.
Ark gulped and shuffled backward, “On second thought, how about that riddle?”
The uglier of the two golems cleared his throat, “Behind one of these doors is the entrance to the catacombs and from there to the Lich King’s palace. Behind the other door is CERTAIN DEATH! Both doors are identical, save for your fate upon passing through them. We know which door is which and we will answer only one question from you. You can only ask the question of one of us, and the group only gets one chance so pick your question wisely. One of us has been ordered to only lie in response to your question; the other will give you an honest and truthful answer. Once you pass through the door you may not return, and your companions will have no indication of what happens to you once you pass through. Think well on your question… You get one chance… Or we can play games and get to the face punching.
Xylia and Ark put their heads together, reasoning the break down in logic. With renewed confidence, Ark put the question to the first golem: “What door would the other golem tell us is the door leading to safety?” The golem cracked his knuckles and curtly stated that his companion would tell them that the door to the right would lead them to safety. Augustine trusted his companions and opened the door to an inky blackness. Reaching his arm forward, it sank into the sheet of darkness like a liquid. He could feel nothing on the other side, not even the wind.
His arm wasn’t any farther than the elbow when Deneveve yelled out “Wait!” The Paladin obediently withdrew his arm and looked at his ally confused. The cleric pulled the dragon bone compass out and saw that the needle did not point to either door, but rather in between them. Looking back to make sure the flesh golems would not object, she moved to the center wall. “Ark, come help me. What do you see?” Together, the cleric and rogue scouted the wall for any hidden door. Ark found a small trigger at the base of the floor and pulled it back. The walls groaned as they slid open, revealing a small catwalk above a gigantic pit. One by one the adventurers followed the catwalk and down into the deep dark pit.
One of the golems muttered to the other “Uhh, Auralius, did you know that door was there? The Lich King told me the door on the right was trapped.”
Auralius replied “Nope, ol’ Lichy always said the door on the right led to safety.” The two flesh golems stared at each other, then Lucius punched Auralius in the face. The party took it as an opportunity to move on.
Xylia remarked at how far deep they had traveled in the labyrinth, wondering aloud if they were ever going to get back to the surface. The mortared stone gave way to walls lined with the bones of the fallen. Xin-Shan was able to make out dragon ribs, werewolf canines, and orc femurs along the walls. When she approached one of the skulls along the walls, she jumped as a ghostly replica drifted out of it and floated about the hall. It didn’t seem concerned at all with any of the adventurers and drifted through the tunnels. It was joined by numerous other skulls floating out and down the hallway. They all seemed to drift in the same direction. Deneveve, trusting only in the compass, noted the compass leading in the same direction as the skulls and led her companions forward.
The skulls all seemed to be migrating to a single large room. The floor was dropped down several feet and was filled with broken sharp bones. Alleric felt the bones, and told his allies that they were razor sharp. The Ranger pulled a rope from her pack and tied one of her sturdier arrows to it. Xylia fired a shot to the opposite side of the room, smiling with satisfaction as it set into the wall. The rogue and monk were the first to volunteer and shimmied across the impromptu rope bridge. Ark nearly fell into the bone pit, slicing his leg open. Despite this, the rest of the party managed to make it across.
The landing opened to an upward slope. They felt a small breeze of air and realized they must be close. Encouraged by the promise of escape, they all marched onward. Their journey outward was thankfully free of additional traps. The tunnel ended in a room housing four large tombs. A gust of wind dimmed the torches along the wall casting the room into shadow. A rumble from the tombs was all the warning the adventurers had before the shadows around the room twisted into the form of armored soldiers.
The symbol on their shields triggered something in Ark’s mind from his time studying in various libraries. He remembered the 7th Legion, a renowned battalion under the Wizard King when he ruled the land. He had just enough time to relate this to his allies before a legionnaire glided through the shadows behind him, driving his blade into the Halfling’s back. Xin-Shan scored a blow into one of the legionnaires but was startled when her fist drifted through a misty shadowy form. Alleric and Xylia dodged back and launched missile and spell out at the undead soldiers. All at once, the legionnaires disappeared into shadow before reappearing behind a new victim to strike. Augustine and Deneveve held firm, trying to protect their allies from the legionnaires that faded in and out around the chamber.
In the end, it was Xylia’s shot that brought down the final legionnaire, his armor falling to the floor as his shadowy form dissipated. While the heroes took the time to patch themselves up, Ark noticed a blade among the legionnaire’s armor and quickly pocketed it. He thought the dagger would come in handy. He also thought he might want to keep his discovery just to himself….
Loved this adventure as it gave us ample opportunity to employ a montage. Going around the table, I was pleased to let players describe hazards to me and even happier when the next player declared how they solved it. We went around the table both ways once each. The result was quite the… unique labyrinth.